The Dress

She saw me in the store and knew I would be the perfect fit for the somber occasion. She tried me on, and it was a done deal. While I was a little more expensive than she ever spent on clothes, the occasion merited a little more.

In the bag I went, home with her, to face the next day’s grave events.

We pulled into the parking lot of the church, a little earlier than most people. I think she got there early to release the sad emotion of the day because my dry seams became wet, as if it were raining, but it wasn’t.

Into the church she went as I comfortably wrapped around her, covering her.

Now I am not used to events such as these — it was my first — but it seemed to go well. I knew when she walked to the front of the church while everyone remained seated that it was my time to shine. She needed me now more than ever, and I did my job to perfection!

It ended up being a very long day. I could tell as my perfectly ironed fabric started to wrinkle and stretch. Still I tried to keep it together. I was hoping the day would soon end, and I think it was about to when an unfamiliar face asked to buy her a drink. The hesitation, I could tell, was from a long, sad, and exhausting day. Still, she must have said yes because on the cold bar stool I remained.

I’m not sure what was in the drink, but all of a sudden my spirits started to lift and my energy began to rise! Was it the alcohol? Was I catching a second wind? This unfamiliar face asked if I wanted to dance. “Of course,” I said gleefully! He led me outside, his hand on my back. Were we dancing in the street? I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t care. I was so elated.

In his truck we went. Where we were going, I didn’t know, but I was happy as he played upbeat music and we sang together in his truck. Driving. Driving. Driving. We must have driven for nearly an hour as the elated feeling faded and sleepiness overtook me.

In his house we went. His arm on my back leading me downstairs. “Shhh,” he said as his dad was sleeping in the living room. Downstairs we went to a room. It had a bed, and that is all I cared about. Finally! To sleep I went immediately. I did my job and could sleep peacefully knowing my girl was finally able to lay her head down.

It was not long after lying down that I was awakened to movement. What is this? As she lay sleeping, the unfamiliar face slowly began to lift me up. Up above her thighs he took me. I was NOT comfortable with this. Then he took me up even higher. I could no longer do my job, covering and protecting her, as he lifted me up above her waist.

I tried to undo the mess he had me in. I tried to cover her, but it was useless. He was too strong, and he kept me where he wanted me until he was finished. I was SO mad at him for making a fool out of me. I had one job and did it so well up until that point. He caused my failure. He caused me pain as I could not keep her safe.

When she finally pulled me down, it was up the stairs and out the door we went. Crying. Confused. Scared. Out the door we went into the freezing cold air. January in the Midwest is unforgivably relentless. Walking we were going to go, but I wasn’t sure how long I could keep her warm. I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I could feel my seams starting to become rigid and freeze in place.

All of a sudden I felt a light on my back. What was that? Headlights. Ugh. The creep in his truck. Do we get in and trust him to take us home? I don’t know but there were no other options. Inside we went — the warmth hit me — and I was so relieved that she was at least going to be warm.

I’m not sure what he was saying on the ride back, but I was drenched in tears. I could hear him yelling all kinds of profanities at her. What was his deal? As if he had not done enough that night – he proceeded to make an even bigger ass out of himself. I could feel the tears growing more and more. If I could have, I would have shut him up once and for all, but I was helpless. All I could do was sit there and wrap around her, trying to protect her and keep her company.

The next morning, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. Was it my fault that I could not protect her? Was it my fault for being at the wrong place at the wrong time? Was it my fault for being weak? I had one role to play that day, and I couldn’t even do that. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Was there someone I could confide in? Someone who could help me? I tried talking to a few people close to me, but the responses did little to help. Was I alone in this? Was this a burden I was left alone to carry?

Unsure what to do, unsure who to speak to, feeling deeply embarrassed, angry, hurt, and ashamed, I put myself in the back of the dark closet and stayed there for nine years, too afraid to come out, too afraid of people’s judgment and their arrogant confirmations that it was my fault.

At some point being alone in the dark became too much and I tried to resurface, but it was not my time yet. I could tell the pain of that night was just too much for me. It felt ever-consuming, hopeless, disastrous, heavy, upsetting, and so much more than words could describe. There simply are no words.

Finally on a warm summer’s day, 11 years later, I emerged from the closet. I could tell this day was different. Many times I faced the Goodwill pile with a band of clothes; yet, somehow always evaded the trip. I remained with my girl for 11 years (moving to two different states, three different apartments and one home). I had narrowly escaped the Goodwill pile for 11 years, but today was different, or I thought it was.

Once again I was pulled out, looked at, studied, remembered, and in the pile I was laid. I thought it was my day to finally leave the closet for good, but then I was put in a pile of my own. Was I going to Goodwill? Was I going back to the closet? She picked me up, carried me downstairs, and out into the bright sunlight. I had not felt the warmth of sun for so long. Then all of a sudden, I had this new feeling of falling. Falling down, down, and down, until I landed at the bottom of a bin.

I waited in there for a while until I was picked up and dropped into a larger bin of trash. I could feel movement and wasn’t sure where I was headed. Then I felt the sensation of falling again; then it stopped. I landed. Into a deep grave I must have gone as dirt began to cover me. I was so relieved! Finally free from the dark, isolated, scary closet of pain. Finally free to be put to rest forever.

I am not mad to be where I am. On the contrary, I am now at peace. I pray the very best for my girl. I hope this life brings her all the best it has to offer. What happened that night should never happened. It was never her fault. I also learned it wasn’t my fault. For so long I blamed myself, but what was done to her was the fault of one man and one man alone. He was the only one who could have prevented what he did. Nonetheless, I pray the best for him as well. It takes a selfish and disturbed individual to do something so wicked. He grew up, an entitled boy with a rich father, who owned a car dealership in town. Was his father gone a lot? Was he never around to instruct and guide him? Did he ever learn who Jesus Christ was? I have many questions and hopes for him. I pray him well, and hope he finds the freedom I too found.

This life is a gift, too short to be lived broken, bitter, hurt, angry, and alone. I am thankful for the peace, rest, freedom, and healing I now have. Peace in the Lord. Rest in the Lord. Freedom and healing in Him – the Perfect Father – the Best Friend – the Greatest Lover. I pray for all to experience peace in Him.

Peace to you and rest to me.

Streams in the Desert June 22

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all transgressions. (Prov 10:12)

Stre

Rehearse your troubles to God only. Not long ago I read in a paper a bit of personal experience from a precious child of God, and it made such an impression upon me that I record it here. She wrote:

“I found myself one midnight wholly sleepless as the surges of a cruel injustice swept over me, and the love which covers seemed to have crept out of my heart. Then I cried to God in an agony for the power to obey His injunction, ’Love covereth.’

“Immediately the Spirit began to work in me the power that brought about the forgetfulness.

“Mentally I dug a grave. Deliberately I threw up the earth until the excavation was deep.

“Sorrowfully I lowered into it the thing which wounded me. Quickly I shoveled in the clods.

“Over the mound I carefully laid the green sods. Then I covered it with white roses and forget-me-nots, and quickly walked away.

“Sweet sleep came. The wound which had been so nearly deadly was healed without a scar, and I know not today what caused my grief.”

“There was a scar on yonder mountain-side,
Gashed out where once the cruel storm had trod;
A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide,
Across the soft green sod.

“But years crept by beneath the purple pines,
And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,
And left it fairer now with flowers and vines
Than it had been before.

Caramelized Meat & Swiss Sambo

I was having a couple friends over for lunch. Truth be told, I have a hundred recipes to make for dinner and about two recipes to make for a nice, formal lunch. Plot twist, they were coming over with their almost 3-year-old, so I wanted a menu that everyone could eat. These fancy caramelized meat & Swiss sandwiches were such a crowd pleaser for young and old, I will definitely make these again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. Hawaiian sweet rolls (You could also substitute a bigger, nicer bun)
  • 1/2 lb. sliced deli ham
  • 1/2 lb. sliced deli turkey
  • 1/2 lb. sliced salami
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese, halved
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion (I used yellow, not red, to tame down the flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Arrange bottom halves of rolls in a greased 9×13-in. baking pan. (If you’re using bigger buns, you may need another pan.) Spread the cut side of the roll bottoms with butter and layer with ham, turkey, cheese and salami. (Really you can use any meat that you like. I left salami off of a few in case my little toddler friend didn’t like that meat.) Replace tops.
  2. In a small skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender, 1-2 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour over rolls, ensuring that each roll is properly coated in the butter/mustard concoction. Refrigerate, covered, for a couple hours. (To note: I have skipped the refrigeration part and find that the bread gets a little soggy, but I think using a larger, heartier bun would help this.)
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Bake, covered, 25 minutes. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, 5-10 minutes longer. (Keep an eye on the time when baking uncovered. A couple of my tops got a little more brown that I would have liked.)

Like I mentioned, you can use any meat you like. You could add a little horseradish or Worcestershire sauce if you like that. Play around with it because it is a fun recipe. I might have used a little extra butter when I make these. You can also save the poppy seeds for the very end (before baking) but strategically place them on top of the rolls so they look pretty. Enjoy!

The Best Cheesy Potatoes

My husband and I took a cooking class around Thanksgiving time, and these are a must-have for anyone’s dinner menu.

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp. Unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Heavy cream
  • 4 Large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 6 sprigs of Rosemary or Thyme
  • A couple pinches of fresh grated nutmeg (or jar nutmeg)
  • 8 oz. Grated Gruyere cheese
  • 4 oz. Fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 4 lb. Golden potatoes, peeled and sliced (can use various types of potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. Fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350F Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Grease a 9×13 in. baking dish with the butter.

Pour the milk and cream into a small saucepan. Add the garlic, rosemary, and nutmeg. Bring JUST to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside to infuse for at least 20 minutes.

Combine the Gruyere cheese and Parmigiano in a bowl.

Peel potatoes and slide them into ⅛ inch thick rounds. Arrange about one-third of the potatoes in a single overlapping layer in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and top with one-third of the Gruyere-Parmigiano mix. Scatter over half of the goat cheese. Add a second overlapping layer of potatoes, more salt and pepper, another third of the Gruyere-Parmigiano mix, and the remaining goat cheese. Make a third layer with the remaining potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Press down lightly to compact the layer.

Remove the garlic and rosemary from the infused cream and discard. Set the cream over medium-high heat and watch carefully until it just begins to simmer; don’t let it boil. Pour the cream over the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Set the baking dish on the foil lined baking sheet and bake until the top is deep brown and the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork, around 1.5 hours. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Fine Cooking

A Full Belly

18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

Phil 3:18-19

Paul is not talking about the ‘super bad’ sinners and enemies of the cross. He isn’t talking about rapists and murderers, or maybe he is, but he isn’t only talking about these people. He is talking about you and about me. People who have their gaze fixed on earthly things:

  • Revenge
  • Grudges
  • Success
  • Status
  • Deceit
  • Envy/covetousness
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Comfort
  • Security
  • Gluttony/Excess living
  • Pleasure
  • Laziness

Whatever this looks like in your life, and I’m sure there is more than one…

Paul was in tears at the thought of the Philippians, and the thought of you and me, seeking to be full on worldly pleasures when only God could ever and can ever fill the longing of our souls. The cry for more is often louder than the gentle calling of a humble king.

Prayers for you and prayers for me to not walk as enemies of the cross, eyes fixed on worldly pursuits. Prayers to seek first the kingdom and to put aside the cravings of this world/culture. God bless and Amen!

A Modern-Day Nativity

Normally I don’t pay too much attention to nativity scenes. Growing up a good Catholic, I was surrounded by these classic, made in China figurines and have grown a bit desensitized to the meaning behind them.

Yet, this year the scene has caught my attention more than once and caused me to stop what I’m doing just to look.

I couldn’t figure out why I continue to be captivated by this scene, and the reason finally hit me.

I know we’re all busy, but working full-time with a 10-month-old home with me full-time has taken busy to the next level. My typical day looks like waking up early, diaper change, feed baby, play with baby, log into work, respond to emails, put baby down for a nap, crank out work. Respond to text messages, check emails, think about dinner, meal plans for the work week, meals for baby, refocus on work. Baby is up. Change baby and feed baby. Play with baby and try not to be distracted with text, calls, and emails from work or personal life. Clean this. Move that. Add this to the grocery list. Forgot this. Add it to the to-do list. Refocus. Play with baby. Feed baby. Put baby down for a second nap. Crank out work. Baby is up. Feed, play, work, clean, play, feed. Bedtime. More work. To do’s. Catch up. Cook, clean, try to fall asleep. Rinse and repeat.

In my days filled with chaos, and in a world filled with social media and advertising that knows exactly how to get your attention, what keeps catching my eye about the nativity scene is this: focus.

Mary, Joseph, the Magi, shepherds, angels, and the animals are all focused on one thing. The scene is quiet. The scene is peaceful. They just have one thing to look at. One thing grabbing their attention.

I feel like if this were a modern day nativity scene, Mary would be trying to look pretty without actually trying to look pretty because #nofilter as Joseph would be getting selfies with Jesus and Mary #firstkid #itsaboy The Magi would be on the US Stock Market app buying up frankincense, gold, and myrrh, and the shepherds would be clocking in some OT #holidaypay.

Aside from the animals and the angels, I’m not sure anyone would remain to be still or focused on the child.

Wishing you and yours a season full of focus, a season devoted and dedicated to THE Child.

To Do Lists

One of the best things I’ve ever heard is: you’re going to die and leave items unfinished on your to-do list, and you know what, you will be dead, they won’t be done, and it won’t matter. Life will still go on. So that annoying to do list that is ever growing and never shrinking, that list that has so much power over my life, really can be ripped up, thrown in the garbage, and forgotten about and life will still go on. My life and the life of everyone else.

Luscious Meat+Veggie Lasagna

So I have been in hot pursuit of a tasty lasagna recipe that is more than meat, noodles, and tomato sauce.  I think I’ve found it!

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces hot ground sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped or 1 Cup butternut squash, cubed and cooked
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach

Tomato sauce (You can substitute 2 Cups of a garlic and mushroom spaghetti sauce if you don’t have time.) Otherwise it’s really simple to make spaghetti sauce. Just simmer the diced tomatoes and spices and anything else you’d like to add to your sauce. I usually add a bunch of fresh garlic, fresh basil if I have it, a little bit of sugar to tone down the acidity from the tomatoes, and any other spices that it’s needing to give it a good taste like oregano, salt, pepper. I just cook it all together and put it in the blender until it’s smooth and tastes yummy.

  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil + additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Remaining ingredients

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) low-fat cottage cheese, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 9-13 no bake lasagna noodles*
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) freshly grated low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook sausage in large skillet over low heat until cooked. Once cooked. Remove sausage and set aside.
  3. In that same skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, yellow onion, and salt. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the veggies are golden on the edges, about 8 to 12 minutes.
  4. Add a few large handfuls of spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, to prepare the tomato sauce: Pour the tomatoes into a mesh sieve or fine colander and drain off the excess juice for a minute. Then, transfer the drained tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  6. Pulse the mixture about 10 times, until the tomatoes have broken down to an easily spreadable consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl for later (you should have a little over 2 cups sauce). Rinse out the food processor and return it to the machine.
  7. Pour half of the cottage cheese (1 cup) into the processor and blend it until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to large mixing bowl. No need to rinse out the bowl of the food processor this time; just put it back onto the machine because you’ll need it later.
  8. Transfer the cooked veggies and spinach mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until they are more finely chopped (but not puréed!), about 5 to 7 times, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of whipped cottage cheese. Top with the remaining cottage cheese, then add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (to taste) and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
    Lasagna assembly time!
  9. Spread ½ cup tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with ¾ cup tomato sauce, then sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
  10. Top with 3 more noodles, followed by the remaining cottage cheese mixture (we’re skipping the tomato sauce in this layer.) Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
  11. Top with 3 more noodles, then spread ¾ cup tomato sauce over the top (you may have a little sauce leftover) to evenly cover the noodles. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded cheese.
  12. Wrap a sheet of parchment paper or foil around the top of the lasagna (don’t let it come into contact with the cheese). Bake, covered, for 18 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 more minutes, until the top is turning spotty brown.
  13. Remove from oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Sprinkle additional basil over the top, then slice and serve.

Feel free to play around with the recipe.  Add mushrooms. Increase salt and pepper. Grate fresh Parmesan over the top.  Add bacon instead of sausage.  You could also use GF noodles and sub out the dairy to make a dairy and gluten free option.

Faith/Passion Based on Authority

The other day my husband and I were having a conversation. We just had our first baby. He’s 3 months old, and we were acknowledging the fact that there’s been more tension in our marriage in the last 3 months than there has been in the last 5 years. Why is this?

I mean we wouldn’t be wrong in saying it’s because last year we bought a house, got pregnant, and suffered through a global pandemic that kept two extroverted individuals trapped at home with one another. We love each other, but we love hanging out with our friends. So last year alone entailed enough tension-producing events, but now with the baby, intimacy, communication, free time, sleep, and even a healthy diet are all taking a hit. So a little more tension seems expected, okay, and normal.

We wondered if ‘it is what it is!?’ Should we resign ourselves to this tense fate….We will reconvene maritally in a few years? Lol.

My husband asked a good question: How are we going to maintain passion in our marriage when we’re not able to do the things we love doing during this time? What he meant was, we love skiing, camping, hiking, traveling, exploring, and going out. These activities bring us together. You can do all of that with the kiddo, and we have, but it’s just different.

I thought about his question for a while, as it reminded me of a question I recently asked myself about my faith: If someone asked me why I believed in God, what would I say?

I would have said I believe in God because he changed my life. I believe in God because I’ve seen him perform miracles. However, while both of those statements are true, they are not irrefutable or indisputable. Someone who doesn’t believe in God could have their life changed for the better. You see it all the time with alcoholics or addicts. And miraculous events I saw could have been miracles, or they could have been really crazy-lucky occurrences/coincidences. After realizing this, I became an atheist for a week. I’m not joking. I had no answer for why I believed in God. It seemed my faith in him was based on creations but not the creator. I was miserable for a week and considered that we might actually all be like rats in some horrible lab experiment to see what people would believe in if we all think we have to believe in a greater power. I didn’t even know who to pray to anymore. It seems like some of my prayers get answered, or is it coincidence, and some don’t get answered. Or do they get answered just not in my timing or in the way I imagine? Truth be told, religion, Christianity, is in itself, pretty confusing.

I started reading Mere Christianity as I had done previously when I was an atheist to try to figure out if I wanted to believe in this God thing. I remember CS Lewis stating atheism is too simple of a belief. He goes on to state why, but I will not try to summarize his words. He does it much better than I ever could. There’s a chapter in the beginning of Mere Christianity that caught my attention. Lewis says that we can believe on authority. Meaning, not that we have seen something for ourselves, but we believe it because we believe whoever said it is true to be right. His example was he’s never been to New York or seen it, but he believes it to be a place based on authority.

That got me thinking. Could I believe in God based on authority? Could I believe in God because the Bible says He is real? Could I believe in God because Jesus, a man recognized by the secular world as much as the Christian world, said God is real?

After much deliberation and research into the man of Jesus Christ and the validity of New testament, I decided to believe again. I decided to believe that Jesus is who he said he is based on authority.

So coming full circle, I’m back to my husband’s question: how do we remain passionate in our marriage when passion seems to evade us?

The only answer I could give him was we remain passionate because we remain passionate. It’s a choice we make to remain passionate when we’re not skiing or camping or traveling or having time to communicate or make love or eat nice meals or get dressed up and go out. We choose to remain passionate or else we become maritally dry, like 50% of divorced couples who claim: “I just don’t love him anymore” or “I fell out of love with her.” As if love were a hole or trap you could fall into. I did not fall in love with my husband. I chose to love him. I choose to love him. I choose to remain passionate about him and our marriage, recalling the good times and his greatest qualities. Love is a choice. Passion is a choice. Faith is a choice not based on circumstance or feeling. It has got to be more than that or it will fail each time. The strongest bond we can create is the one we choose to.

Mommying @ 7 Weeks

So, I’m pretty sure this kid is going to turn me into an alcoholic. (Certainly said jokingly, but for any parents who are call what it’s like to be in the trenches with a 7-week-old baby who won’t sleep, you get the comical sentiment.)

Someone gave me a onesie that says Mommy’s little alarm clock. It might be true if the baby ever let me sleep, but he’s in a bad habit of waking up every hour on the hour. Everyone told us to wake him up after 2 hours during the day so he’d sleep 3 hours at night. Sounds like great advice. My only question is how do I get him to sleep 2 hours?! HA

Because we do foster care, I definitely thought having a child in the house full time wouldn’t be that much different. Man, I have never been so wrong in my entire life. Sleep deprivation is a band form of torture. I now understand why. It makes people absolutely f****** crazy!

Yet, there’s no greater joy than spending each moment with this little bundle of joy. Breastfeeding takes as many hours as a part-time job. Sleep deprivation will make you do and say the craziest things. Intimacy really has to be a priority in marriage if you still want to be getting some, and weight loss hasn’t been a problem because there’s really no time to meal plan, buy groceries, make food, and eat. I’m surprised more personal trainers don’t recommend a popcorn and trail mix diet for weight loss. It is super effective!

I’ve talked to so many friends and strangers, and joked about the frustrations of parenting a newborn. It’s more or less cathartic to speak about how difficult it is; however, I wouldn’t change a thing. I mean I’d love to sleep and eat and date my husband and have time for sexy romantic dinners and back massages that lead to sex, but if it means not having this little puddins, I don’t want it. This is only a season of life, and I only get it for so long. I am going to enjoy the crap out of every single sleepless and sexless moment. I hope other parents might find some encouragement in these words. Pinterest parenting is not a thing, and there’s really no routine with a newborn. You just have to do what works for you and the baby to make it through these precious moments. Keep it up Mom and Dad. If you are loving that baby and providing for him or her, then You’re doing a fantastic job!

12 week update
Wow, I don’t even remember the newborn phase. I am so glad I wrote this season of life down because it all seems like a vague memory. Our life was so difficult around week 6. Now at week 12, I can say our son has been sleeping through the night. (For babies at this age, that means 5+ hours at a time.) He wakes up at 3am and 6am and this feels manageable. Reading the 7-week post is so funny. I now recall how Rowan used to wake up every hour and how incredibly exhausting it was, but I don’t remember it. (Perhaps the body’s way of forgetting a ‘trauma’ in order to repopulate the earth…. Or one hypothesis I’ve heard.)

If you’re at 12 weeks and baby is still not sleeping and you still have no time to eat, remember, this too shall pass. One day at a time. The other night my husband prayed:

“God, give us faith to trust you, perseverance to enjoy the present moment, and courage to hope for the future.”

Amen!

The Pregnancy Journey 2020-2021

A person hears a lot of information regarding pregnancy, but nothing you hear really prepares you for the 40-week journey that is pregnancy. I wanted to jot down some lessons I learned, some myths that were debunked, and some experiences I had during pregnancy.

First Trimester

  • Morning Sickness: Is not limited to the morning. From week 6 to week 13, I was nauseous all day everyday. I hear there is a nausea medication you can take, but I hate mediation, so I lived on salty Pop Chips and Ginger Ale Zevia.
  • Pregnancy Test: It’s really hard to believe the results of one test, so make sure to buy at least three tests.
  • Food Aversions: All food. All food tasted awful and was awful, so it’s hard to gain weight.
  • Excitement/Fear: Getting pregnant your first time is SO exciting. Out of all three trimesters, this trimester was the SWEETEST for my husband and I being excited. We laughed and cried and rejoiced and dreamed about the future and holding our precious baby. This was also the ‘scary’ trimester when it felt like we were ‘holding our breath’ until we got to 13 weeks.
  • Baby Announcement: We kept the announcement simple, meaning no professional photo shoots or staged anything, and that was our choice. Do what you want to do, announcement or no announcement. Don’t feel pressured to do anything else because your friends or Pinterest are!
  • Genetic Testing: We did not do genetic testing. Some of our friends did and others didn’t. It’s good to know which tests are optional and which tests are not. The entire process can be a very ‘invasive’ experience, so it’s nice to have a choice in what tests you want done.

Second Trimester

  • Nesting: Why had I NEVER heard this term before? It’s awful and SO real. My husband and I fought, more than once, because I wanted to clean EVERY crack and corner of the house (to prepare ‘the nest’ for baby), and he had NO CLUE why cleaning the trim would ‘prepare’ the nest for baby. HAHA. Looking back now, I just have to laugh at the fights we had. At the time and in the moment, I knew I was right in ‘preparing the home,’ whatever that looked like, but now I agree with him that the trim likely didn’t need to get cleaned, but the house looks GREAT! 😉 We both grew immensely during this time. Lessons learned: 1. I learned to communicate when I was starting to feel a ‘wave’ of hormones coming on if/when the house was getting too dirty. So instead of getting upset or crazy cleaning and expecting him to help, I would say, “Hey, I’m starting to get ‘nesting brain.’ Do you think we could take Saturday and get some things done?” 2. He learned to communicate if he was truly okay with this or not. 3. He also learned to be a little more proactive in helping pickup around the house so dirt and dishes didn’t pile up and stress me out. 4. We both learned to meet each other in the middle. I was on one extreme and he was on the other, and we amicably came together to maintain peace and harmony in our marriage, because at the end of the day, the nest is only as ‘put together’ as we are.
  • Choosing a Name: I definitely used to judge the people who said, “We’re waiting until the baby’s born to share the name.” I don’t remember the reasons why I judged those people, but I understand why some want to wait. Some of the reasons: 1. People WILL tell you their thoughts. I told my family the top 5 names we liked, and they didn’t like any of the names. So if you really like a name and are set on it, either don’t tell others OR be ready to tell family/friends to ‘piss off’ if they don’t like it! 2. Dibs. There was a name I liked, but my husband’s co-worker, who was also pregnant, called ‘dibs’ on that name. So that one was out. (I mean there are always going to be people who ‘double down’ on a name. You cannot avoid it, but it did seem a little odd to name our baby the same as theirs given the situation.) So we are due in a week, and I’m not telling anyone the name until the baby is born, because people will tell you BEFORE the baby is born that they don’t like the name, but once you’ve already named your baby, they’ll just say it behind your back! 😉
  • Gender Reveal: Do something! My husband didn’t want to do ‘cutesy’ announcement or bump photos, like arms wrapped around me or hand on the bump, and I was okay with that. After all, I have never been at someone’s house and seen ‘bump photos’ displayed. Usually the photos that make the cut are family and baby photos. So whatever, but I drew the line at not doing something fun for the gender reveal. Posted below is our gender reveal, and he said 1. He was glad we did something; 2. He was glad we both had a ‘bag’ to open.
Baby Gender Reveal:
Nuts or No Nuts?
Touchdowns or Tutus?
  • Hormones: My hormones were raging in the second trimester. We had the most fights AND the most sex. At a certain point, we were getting in a fight every two weeks; it was like clockwork. It was miserable, until we sat down one day and just said, “This isn’t us. We aren’t that couple who quarrels like this.” We then spent some time discussing what was going on. I mean, we are a two days drive from family, living in a COVID pandemic, not able to go to church, go to restaurants, or partake in most of our hobbies. We started to identify that being pregnant was new and stressful enough, then add a pandemic, protests, riots, an election, a million fires in the west, and we realized we were doing a DAMN GOOD JOB getting along! Needless to say, after that talk, our bi-weekly quarrels ceased.
  • Baby Registry: Talk to seasoned moms about which items were a must, which were nice to have, and which ones may be nice but really are not necessary. It will save a lot of research time!
  • Postpartum Products: STOCK UP! I spent so much time thinking about the baby, the house, the registry, the everything and anything else that I almost forgot about what I will need the first couple weeks after delivery. I ended up getting a breast pump and parts (via insurance), nipple cream, diapers, all different sized pads, lotion, Frida peri bottle, bath salts, perennial spray, witch hazel pads, postpartum sweatpants, postpartum underwear, nursing gown and shirts, fuzzy socks (because why not), and I made sure I have some sweet treats in the freezer for a job well done!

Third Trimester

  • Nausea: I had heard of morning sickness, which is really ‘all day’ sickness, but I did not know that nausea could happen in the third trimester. That sucks! Back to Ginger Ale Zevias for me!
  • Weekly Gynie: I will say, at 30-something weeks, you have to go for prenatal appointments bi-weekly, and then weekly for the last month. It’s a lot. Choose a hospital close to where you live!
  • Enjoy! The clean house, the cute nursery, the martial state of bliss, and just get ready to welcome in a sweet, precious baby anytime!